MT 2017 Week 3 Updates

We hope to see you this coming Monday (30 October, 12.45-2pm, St Anne's, Seminar Room 3) for the OCCT Discussion Group! The sessions will be structured as an experiment in comparative reading out of context. This format seeks to pull readers out of their comfort zone by asking them to compare passages from literary texts without the usual background (biographical information, historical context, etc.) that covertly informs our reading. In doing so, we hope to shed light on our own biases as scholars, with an eye to sharpening our critical practice. No preparation necessary! As always, free sandwich lunch, fruit and coffee will be provided.

At the start of term, OCCT hosted a workshop on Prismatic Jane Eyre: Close-Reading a Global Novel Across Languages, part of the ongoing Prismatic Translation project which is now funded by the AHRC as part of its OWRI Creative Multilingualism programme. Research will continue throughout the year and beyond; and there will be some open events hosted by OCCT as part of that. You can read more here.

Read Khalid Lyamlahy’s review of Ruth Bush’s Publishing Africa in French: Literary Institutions and Decolonisation 1945-1967 here.

An interview with Marilyn Booth as a translator just came out in Asymptote here.


Events, Job and Experience Opportunities


A display of books, an afternoon of talks and a museum 'trail' to celebrate the life and works of Ovid (Publius Ovidius Naso, Sulmona, 20th March, 43 BC - Tomis, c. AD 17) 2000 years from his death. Please see here for the full programme, which features several talks on the medieval and renaissance reception of Ovid, including Colin Burrow on "Elizabethan Ovids".


2. *Modern Poetry in Translation* is launching its autumn issue ‘War of the Beasts and the Animals’ in Queen's with readings by Maria Stepanova, the Russian poet and activist whose work tackles the current war in Ukraine, and her translator (and editor of MPT) Sasha Dugdale; and by David Constantine, poet, scholar, prize-winning short story writer, who will be reading from his new translations of Hölderlin and talking about them with Charlie Louth.

6 November 2017, Queen's College, 6pm. Shulman Auditorium. Drinks afterwards - all welcome.


3. BATTLE OF IDEAS | 28 & 29 October 2017

The Barbican, London

Information here

The Institute of Modern Languages Research is sponsoring the panel:

‘Read the World: Literary Translation Today’

Saturday 28 October 2017, 2-3.30 pm

Information here

To most people, translation is largely seen as a technical skill and the translator an anonymous wordsmith. But it has been long argued that the work of the literary translator is grossly undervalued both commercially and critically. How many of us, when we read a book in translation, have ever pondered on the knowledge and artistry that made it possible? And yet, throughout history, it has been the translation of sacred, philosophical and literary texts that enabled knowledge and thought to be shared, and humanity to develop.

In literature specifically, translation expands our ability to explore the thoughts and feelings of people from other societies and other times. Translation enables us to discover books that we would never have otherwise encountered. In fact, ‘world literature’ as a discipline of academic study depends on translation.

In recent times, there seems to be a growing recognition that translation is an art to be celebrated and not concealed. Indeed, the Man Booker International Prize 2016 was shared by Han Kang, author of The Vegetarian, and Deborah Smith, who translated it from Korean. Smith subsequently achieved greater celebrity than the author in the UK. Her translation was lauded – all the more so because she had apparently only started to learn Korean in 2010.

But perhaps the more interesting question is how much of herself Smith put into the book. If translation is more than a technical procedure, might the translator’s own creativity change the work fundamentally? Is it even a translator’s job to retain a book’s literary ‘essence’ or is her work better understood as something inevitably new? This new-found recognition of the translator comes at a time when there has never been a greater demand for translated literary texts.

But is a translation ever a truly faithful rendering of the original work, or are monoglot Anglophones kidding ourselves that we have really read Tolstoy or Goethe, or indeed Han Kang? As Barbara Cassin’s Dictionary of Untranslatables: A Philosophical Lexicon reminds us, some concepts, like Dasein (German), pravda (Russian), saudade (Portuguese) and stato (Italian) are difficult, perhaps impossible, to capture properly in English.

Should we celebrate the fact that translators are being recognised as artists and writers in their own right? Or does the recognition of the creativity of the translator mean accepting a certain distance from the author? Are there limits to the freedom a translator can exercise in their interpretation of a text? Can we meaningfully strike a balance between slavishly literal translations that lose the soul of the original, and completely new literary works that are only really ‘inspired’ by that original?

Chair: Shirley Lawes


Gerry Feehily

Nicky Harman

Duncan Large

Vanessa Pupavac


School of Advanced Study • University of London


The Position

The Institute of Modern Languages Research is now seeking to appoint a Director of the Ingeborg Bachmann Centre for Austrian Literature and Culture.  This is a part-time fixed-term appointment (1 day per week) and the appointee is expected to commence on or soon after 2 January 2018 through to 31 December 2018, in the first instance.

The Director will promote Austrian literature and culture by initiating, directing and coordinating scholarly, academic and public events as well as by developing research activities at the Ingeborg Bachmann Centre for Austrian Literature and Culture (IBC) within the remit of the Institute of Modern Languages Research.

The appointable candidate will hold a doctorate from a recognised University in German Literature and Language, with a specialisation in Austrian Literature.  You will demonstrate knowledge of Austrian current cultural affairs and have an active interest in Austrian studies and Austrian culture, literature and film.  You will be an advanced communicator with the ability to collaborate with academic and professional services staff, developing networks across scholarly, governmental, non-governmental, media and educational sectors.  Key to your success in this role will be superior organisational skills and experience of designing and organising academic and public events, including seminars, workshops and conferences. You will have native or near-native English and German.

For a full Person Specification please refer to the Job Description below.

Further Information

To apply for this fixed-term opportunity, please submit your covering letter and CV by clicking the button below.  Applications close midnight Sunday, 26 November 2017.  Interviews will take place before Christmas.

In submitting your application, you must also provide a minimum of two professional referees.  Unless you request otherwise, referees will be contacted if you are shortlisted for interview.

The University of London

The University of London is one of the oldest and largest universities in the UK – and the most diverse. Established by Royal Charter in 1836, the University is recognised globally as a world leader in Higher Education. We are a federal institution consisting of 18 self-governing member institutions of outstanding reputation and a number of acclaimed central academic bodies.

Institute of Modern Languages Research, School of Advanced Study, University of London

The Institute of Modern Languages Research (IMLR) was established in 2004 with the merger of the Institute of Germanic Studies and the Institute of Romance Studies, founded in 1950 and 1989, respectively. Its strengths are in the fields of Germanic, French, Hispanic, and Italian studies.

The Institute is committed to initiating, facilitating, and promoting dialogue and research for the Modern Languages community both nationally and internationally. It fosters and contributes to national and international collaborative, cross-disciplinary, and cross-cultural research through seminars, lectures, workshops, colloquia, conferences, a fellowships programme, and its six research centres.

The School of Advanced Study at the University of London brings together nine internationally renowned research institutes to form the UK's national centre for the support of researchers and the promotion of research in the humanities.


University of London - Further Particulars;  University of London - Employee Benefits;  Director IBC - JD;

Institute of Modern Languages Research

University of London School of Advanced Study

Room 239, Senate House

Malet Street, GB- London WC1E 7HU
Telephone 0044 (0)20 7862 8966

Website here.

5.The British Comparative Literature Association is pleased to open registration for its postgraduate conference 'Unforeseen Consequences: Literatures of Protest and Political Struggle', to be held at the University of Warwick on 11th November with a keynote by Dr Oliver Davis (Warwick).

All are welcome and attendance is free, but we ask that those planning to attend register here.  Registration closes at 9am on 8th November.  Anyone who wishes to register after this time should email

The programme for the day is as follows:

9.30 – 10.00: Registration

10.00 – 10.15: Welcome

10.15 – 11.45: Panel One: Legacies of Power

Giulia Champion (Warwick): The Emergence of Britain as a Nation-State and the Uncanny Colony in Literature

Amanda Stewart (Oxford): Narrative Ambiguity as a Response to Governmental Censorship: a close analysis of narrative voice in Christa Wolf’s The Quest for Christa T.

Michael James (Royal Holloway): Losing a Sense of Space: dysfunctional spaces and Grimethorpe in the poetry of Helen Mort and Steve Ely

11.45 – 12.00: Coffee

12.00 – 13.30: Panel Two: Territory and Displacement

Sophie Kelly (Edgehill): Right-to-Remain (Silent): making space for ‘unofficial’ voices within a hostile landscape

Sam La Védrine (Nottingham): The Ecology of the In-Between and Writing ‘the entangled letters/of a new genetic code’: Pierre Joris’ stochasticism of nomadic poetics

Andrew Stones (Warwick): From ‘World-Ecological’ Literature to Exo-Planetary Fictions

13.30 – 14.15: Lunch

14.15 – 15.30: Keynote

Dr Oliver Davis (Warwick): For a Theory of Unforeseen Consequences: side-effects, unwieldy knowledge and literature

15.30 – 15.45: Coffee

15.45 – 17.15: Panel Three: Contemporary Struggles

Farah Aridi (Goldsmiths): Negotiating the Right to the City in Saleem Haddad’s Guapa

Asma Jahamah (Essex): Post 9/11 Terror in Nadeem Aslam’sThe Blind Man’s Garden

Caterina Scarabicchi (Royal Holloway): ‘Borrowing’ the Migrant’s Story: De Luca’s Solo Andata between social commitment and literary appropriation

17.15 – 18.15: Wine Reception

The conference will be held in the Wolfson Research Exchange on Floor 3 (Extension) of University of Warwick Library. A university card is required to enter the library; please speak to the staff member at the Welcome Point who will direct you to the Wolfson Research Exchange. An interactive campus map and a floorplan of the library are available here.

Refreshments and lunch will be provided, with a wine reception following the conference. If you have any dietary requirements, please let us know by emailing See our Facebook and Twitter  pages for more about BCLA Postgraduates.

We look forward to seeing you on 11th November, ​Holly, Ava, Miles and Stefano (BCLA Postgraduate Representatives)


6. *British Comparative Literature Association Web Editor*

The BCLA is looking for a new web editor. This role involves taking responsibility for our website here: posting material, making design changes, liaising with our postgraduate representatives about the publicising of events, collaborating with our Treasurer in overseeing the mechanism for online membership applications, and attending occasional BCLA Executive Committee meetings. As our departing web editor, Alex Millen, says: this is 'an excellent opportunity: a great way to keep up with a wide range of scholarly events across the UK and further afield; good practice, particularly for those who might want to pursue academic careers; as well as the chance to be an important part of a community of scholars.' The role is not paid but it does come with an annual honorarium of £250.
If you would like to apply, please send a CV, and a brief letter outlining your interest in the post, to the Hon Secretary of the BCLA Prof Matthew Reynolds: The closing date for applications is now 31 October 2017.


7. *British Comparative Literature Association Early Career Representative*

The BCLA is creating a new role of Early Career Representative on its Executive Committee. The aim of the role is simple but important: to recognise the distinctive interests and needs of academics in the early postdoctoral phase of their careers, and to make sure that this community is fully represented in the BCLA's decision-making and activities. As a member of the Executive Committee, the Early Career Representative will be at the heart of the BCLA's activities, and will have rich opportunities for career development.

Committee meetings take place thrice yearly; travel expenses are reimbursed.
Once the post is established its occupant will be elected by the community it represents. But the first Early Career Representative will have to be appointed. If you would like to apply, please send a CV, and a brief letter outlining your interest in the post, to the Hon Secretary of the BCLA Prof Matthew Reynolds: The closing date for applications is now 31 October 2017.


8. The British Comparative Literature Association - AT HOME

Saturday, 18th November 2017

SOAS, University of London

Brunei Gallery – B 102

Open and free to all members - or come along and join on the day!


From Thesis to Publication (12.00)

Training session and discussion aimed especially at postgraduate students and early career academics, led by:

Dr Graham Nelson (Oxford), Managing Editor of the Legenda (home to the BCLA’s own Studies in Comparative Literature, as well as Transcript and other interesting series).

Dr Richard Hibbitt (Leeds), Editor of the BCLA’s journal Comparative Critical Studies.

Prof Sanja Bahun (Essex), Associate Editor for Feminist Modernist Studies.

Prof Ben Hutchinson (Kent), Editor of Palgrave Studies in Modern European Literature.

Members of the BCLA Editorial Committee responsible for selecting publications for Studies in Comparative Literature will also be present and happy to answer questions.

Sandwich Lunch (1.30), featuring the Award of this year’s Arthur Terry Postgraduate Essay Prize

AGM & Open Meeting of the Executive Committee (2.15)

Wine Reception (5.00), featuring President Prof Susan Bassnett (Warwick) in conversation with Prof Matthew Reynolds (Oxford) and members of the BCLA

Please come and join us for this interesting and convivial day!


Comparative Criticism and Translation

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